Sweet says that this song "deals with a thirtysomething hepcat trying
get inside a musically naive teenage girl's pants, but he finds they
nothing in common except their taste for 'Cuervo Gold' and the 'fine
Fagen said: 'Sentimental love is the stock in trade of every
Actually, we use it quite often, but we just try to change the angle a
little and change the quality of the relationships a bit. It's
and innuendo is a tradition in rhythm and blues.'
"Listening to 'Hey Nineteen,' some critics suggested an even greater sense of alienation than usual beneath the surface. Becker and Fagen had both passed
thirty and the majority of their audience were much younger. 'At one time I felt I would be morally obliged to blow my brains out at this age,' said Becker. 'But
I no longer feel that.'
"...during an interview with Mitchell Fink [Mr. Becker said] 'I don't know how many songs we've written about whores--it must be every other one. It's all
very deliberate. You can only say so much about love. I don't see anything unreasonable about "Hey Nineteen." I think that song's self-explanatory, if not
strictly autobiographical. I figured a lot of people could identify with it.' " (RITY, pp. 144-145)
I think it's hilarious that these guys were just past thirty when they were bemoaning middle age. Ha! Thirty was a long time ago!
John Dessi (Digest, 1/17/98) describes this song as being about "growing old disgracefully."
Roy.Scam once suggested that when you've reached un certain age, it should be "skate a little slower now."
When I was 19 I embraced "Hey Nineteen" more than ever, for all the
reasons and the magic of being old enough to play but
too young to be taken seriously. A decade later I look around and realize that I have have assumed Donald's role ... I can still dance, but I'll be dammed if they
even care who the Queen of Soul is
The Kids will live and learn
I don't know if this happened at the other concerts but a memorable
to me anyway, occured at Virginia Beach during "Hey
19". Donald Fagen was doing his conversational part in the middle , talking about his preparations for his generation-spanning date; he baited us with a phrase
something like, "... not that clear stuff but the yellowish stuff with the worm in the bottom; oh, ...what do they call that?" Suddenly, without regard to purpose
or dignity, a huge number of people, including myself, screamed the answer, as if we felt Donald actually urgently needed that information. We were
instantaneously unified in group silliness, not unlike a crowd of metalheads to whom someone just shouted, "Are you ready to rock and roll?!" -- It took me
back to when I was little and Buffalo Bob (on the Howdy Doody Show) would bait the peanut gallery by saying "Where is that Clarabell?" when Clarabell was
obviously right behind him. Like mesmerised Moonies, we would scream the damn clown's location as if the fate of mankind hung in the balance. (Even if we
were at home watching this on television, we would scream, and maybe even point.) -- For some reason, being played to the point of atavistic reversion by
Mister Fagen was not only nostalgic, but somehow emotionally satisfying.
Listen up (GB, 8/6/00): Mezcal is the tequila with the worm. Please pass this message on to Donald Fagen. Thank you.
A few years ago, Diggy mentioned that Reelin' in the Years might be
a father looking at his daughter, rather than and man and his girl. Mr.
Stewart said the same about "My RIval." Those both made a lot of sense
to me, and looking at "Hey 19," I think it might be similar.
as a whole seems to rely on themes of aging and this interpretation
fit nicely into that. I am nineteen myself right now, and on the
I have to visit home and drive around with my father, he always
to me how happy he is that we share tastes in music. I think that the
wants that with his daughter. He wants to be a cool dad, but he also
her to appreciate the things that he does. The song starts with a story
that the narrator is telling about how cool he was back in 67. The
is even upbeat here, but it changes with the line "And where the hell
I." But his daughter doesn't care at all. They've got nothing in
this girl doesn't even know the basics of good music, she doesn't even
know who Aretha Franklin is (and the narrator even tries to make her
hip with 'Retha instead of Aretha) and yet the narrator still wants her
to "take him along." He is rambling on and on about the good
but "she thinks he's crazy." Really, he is just growing old. But he
his daughter and he wants to be cool in her eyes, so what does he do?
buys her beer, and sitting outside drinking with his daughter "makes
a wonderful thing." At least they don't have to talk at
I have a technical question for anyone with an interesting
If the album was released in 1984, and the girl is 19, then "way back
67" the girl was 2. If in fact this is a father/daughter song, then
was he doing with a two-year-old? Maybe that explains the line, "so
and willing" he is willing to have a family despite all the fun that is
to be had. But now he can't have as much fun anymore (he's getting old)
and he is a bit resentful.
Cringemaker (10/1/03): "Hey Nineteen" is a nod to Muddy
Waters' "She's Nineteen Years Old." In both songs, the narrators fixate on
winning the attentions of the much
younger woman which is no easy task.
Reelin' In The Years, by Brian Sweet
Anything by Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul in Perpetuity. Try "Lady Soul," "Aretha's Gold," "Aretha Now," or her fabulous gospel albums, "Aretha Gospel" and "Amazing Grace." There are also a couple of boxed sets.